• Switzerland's news in English

Campaign for top WTO job intensifies

AFP · 1 Feb 2013, 12:07

Published: 01 Feb 2013 12:07 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"This is a procedure that is all but unique in the world -- a selection rather than an election that takes several months to complete," a source close to the process told AFP.
The candidates — six men and three women mainly from developing nations — are all considered confirmed global trade specialists and are vying to replace Frenchman Pascal Lamy, who finishes his second four-year term in August.

This past week, they have all gone before the WTO's general council for gruelling questioning about their merits and visions for the organization, which oversees global trade practices and is trying to reduce tariffs that hobble exchanges.
The interviews took place behind closed doors, but in subsequent news conferences all the candidates stressed the urgency in addressing the WTO's main challenge: jump starting the stalled Doha Round of trade talks that was launched in 2001.

"The reality is that the round at this point in time is paralyzing the system, and we have to solve it," insisted Brazil's envoy to the WTO Roberto Azevedo, who was one of three candidates from Latin America — a heavily-tipped region to land the organization's top job -- and the last of the nine to face the fire.

South Korean Trade Minister Taeho Bark, the only other candidate who spoke Thursday, agreed, insisting that "there's a need to rebuild trust."

On Wednesday, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser, the only candidate from an advanced economy and therefore considered a longshot since the UN's trade body appears set on picking someone from a developing nation, stressed that the WTO was facing a "problem of relevance."

Mexican economist and former minister Herminio Blanco Mendoza also cautioned Wednesday that the WTO risked "losing relevance" if the next Doha-round talks in Bali at the end of the year failed.

Former Jordanian trade minister Ahmad Thougan Hindawi, the only Middle Eastern candidate, also spoke Wednesday of a need of "a fresh outside look" to get the process moving.

"After 12 years of stalled negotiations, it's time to think of modernizing," agreed high-level United Nations executive Amina Mohamed of Kenya, one of two candidates from Africa — a region also thought likely to provide the organization's next leader.

While insisting that her candidacy was purely based on merit, Mohamed said that "it would send a very, very powerful signal . . . if this organization decided that a woman, preferably an African woman, should take over at the helm of the WTO."

Indonesia's current tourism minister and former trade minister Mari Elka Pangestu, who might have less of a chance given that Lamy's predecessor Supachai Panitchpakdi comes from neighbouring Thailand, also told media on the first day of interviews Tuesday that the WTO would be well-served by having a woman at the top.

The third woman who has thrown her hat in the ring, Costa Rica's Foreign Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez, meanwhile said she was a "cautious optimist" that the WTO would get the Doha round on track.

Ghana's former trade minister Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, who was the first to make his case on Tuesday, also spoke of the need to "revitalise an extremely important organisation."

As the interview process wrapped up Thursday, the candidates were preparing three months of world travel to convince the 158 WTO member states of their merits.

The final selection will be made by a "troika" composed of the yet-to-be-picked presidents of the WTO's general council, its Dispute Settlement Body and its Trade Policy Review Board.

Once the three leaders have been chosen, something that must happen by the end of February, the troika will ask each member state to provide their two favourite candidates, as well as the one they are most opposed to.

Story continues below…

Based on the responses they receive, the three WTO leaders will gradually begin dropping candidates, with the ones who stand little chance of being selected expected to withdraw of their own volition.
The decision must be made no later than May 31st, and the nominee is to take over at the WTO on September 1st.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available